IMMA is delighted to present IMMA Screen, a new series which celebrates film and video works from the IMMA Collection. Previously only shown in an exhibition space, IMMA Screen provides an exciting opportunity for audiences to view artworks by Helen Cammock, Phil Collins, Vivienne Dick, Kevin Gaffney, Isabel Nolan and Alanna O’Kelly in their own homes.
Available from today, Tuesday 26 May, we are pleased to present Sanctuary/Wastelands (1994) by Alanna O’Kelly as the first work to be screened as part of this programme. The screenings are available online for a limited time only alongside a new interview with the artist.
As we reflect on the psychological implications of newly imposed physical distancing between ourselves and others, IMMA Screen invites a timely reflection on the power and politics of representation and the continuous fabrications of the self and the other. In different ways, the works engage with performance and the role of the camera in the construction and mediation of identity.
A number of these works also deal poignantly with ideas of loss and erasure.
Alanna O’Kelly’s, Sanctuary/Wastelands (1994), was shown as part of the exhibition IMMA Archive: 1990s, From the Edge to the Centre when it was closed on 12 March due to COVID-19. In addition to the video, the original soundtrack, which accompanied the 1994 slide-tape installation of Sanctuary/Wastelands, is available for the first time since the re-making of the work in 1998.
Alongside the screening a new interview with O’Kelly is also available with a poem by the late Eavan Boland and a photograph taken by the artist showing the now disappeared burial mound at which the video was set. The poem and photograph were both presented alongside Sanctuary/Wastelands when it was first shown as part of the 1994 Glen Dimplex Artists Award exhibition.
Although the work itself takes the form of a video, Sanctuary/Wastelands is deeply connected to performance and the embodied cultural expression of grief. Made in 1994, Sanctuary/Wastelands captures a famine burial ground at Teampall Dumhach Mhór, or ‘Church of the Great Sandbank’ in Thallabhawn, County Mayo. This site was a monastic settlement from the 6th century and a famine burial ground in the 19th century. Known as ‘The Sanctuary’ to 17th century mapmakers, it was referred to as ‘The Wastelands’ by local people in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The work was conceived following a performance by O’Kelly at the site in which she circled the burial mound while keening for the dead. Once located on the edge of an estuary between Mweelrea Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, the burial ground has now completely dissolved due to erosion.
Originally a slide-tape installation involving three projectors, Sanctuary/Wastelands was later digitised in 1998. The visuals remained the same, with the video capturing the 1994 set-up of one static image of the mound projected onto a wall overlaid with slowly revealed close-ups of the site from the two other projectors. However, a new audio track added in 1998 replaced the original. While the first track related specifically to the site in Mayo and featured the sound of the artist keening as she had done in her early performance there, the new version, made with musician Tommy Hayes, moved the focus away from the cultural specificities of Ireland.
To coincide with IMMA Screen, a new online talk by Dr Maeve Connolly, titled Media-based Time: Infrastructure and Temporality in 1990s Art, is available to listen to. This talk explores media-based time and artworks as it relates to the exhibition IMMA Archive: 1990s and selected work by Willie Doherty, Alanna O’Kelly and Caroline McCarthy.
New screenings will be available monthly alongside a new interview, related resources and material from the IMMA Archive. Each screening will be accessible online for one month.
26 May 2020
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Additional Notes for Editors
Visit the webpage IMMA Screen
Watch Sanctuary/Wastelands (1994) by Alanna O’Kelly
Media-based Time: Infrastructure and Temporality in 1990s Art by Dr Maeve Connolly
40mins | May 2020
To coincide with IMMA Screen, this new online talk explores media-based time and artworks, as it relates to IMMA Archive: 1990s and selected work by Willie Doherty, Alanna O’Kelly and Caroline McCarthy. Presented in collaboration with ARC at IADT. Listen here
About the Artist – Alanna O’Kelly
Irish artist Alanna O’Kelly (born 1955) attended the National College of Art and Design and the Slade School of Art, London. Her practice incorporates sculpture, performance, slide installation and film. Influenced by feminist politics, O’Kelly explores ideas of the psychic conflicts of our shared history and the continuity of tradition. O’Kelly’s work has featured in major group and solo exhibitions since the 1980s. She represented Ireland at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1996.
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